Carlos Henrique comments on new phase in the USA and targets Dante Leon

Carlos Henrique reconciles the roles of athlete and teacher in Houston and is seen as one of grappling’s main promises

Carlos Henrique foi o grande destaque do peso leve no Pan Nogi. Foto: Dominik Borowczyk
Carlos Henrique was the standout lightweight at Pan Nogi. Photo: Dominik Borowczyk

Carlos Henrique Costa is a Dream Art talent in the Jiu-Jitsu elite and has already won a significant title in his promising black belt career. Carlos had a dominant performance at Pan Nogi and won gold at lightweight. The Brazilian also competes in the gi, but is focused on grappling.

Carlos lives in the United States and is the head coach of Dream Art Houston. He has undergone several changes in his professional and personal life and has evolved on and off the mats. He has become stronger in the face of difficulties and today manages to combine the routines of professor and high-performance athlete.

New challenges in his career

In an interview with VF Comunica, Carlos Henrique commented on how important the move to the United States was for the development of his Jiu-Jitsu career.

“I think coming to the United States was the best decision I’ve made in my career. At first, I was worried because I was going to be one of the academy’s professors and I didn’t know who was going to be here with me. Sometimes an athlete comes to the United States but loses quality in his training. The training in São Paulo is very strong and I was afraid of losing quality here. So I talked to Isaque and he left some athletes here with me so that my performance wouldn’t drop. So far, everything is going very well. My competitions speak for themselves. I’ve also improved a lot in English, which is important for athletes. Being here is something great in my career, it’s boosted me in everything,” said Carlos.

Carlos Henrique Costa e sua esposa. Foto: Reprodução/Instagram
Carlos Henrique Costa and his wife. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Personal accomplishment

In recent months, Carlos Henrique has also achieved a personal fulfillment. He got married and started a new phase in his life. The black belt told us how important these changes have been for his maturing.

“I got married and it’s a totally different relationship from dating. I think it was the best decision I ever made in my personal life because I met a great person. Before I met her, I didn’t speak any English, I even had to use a translator (laughs). I still don’t speak everything these days, but I’m much better. I also became a professor here, which was something new because I was only a competitor in Brazil. These changes have forced me to evolve in everything. Both speaking English and being a professor. It’s been a big challenge, but I like these situations that make me evolve,” said Carlos.

Carlos stands out in Jiu-Jitsu as a professor and athlete

Carlos confessed that he doubted whether he would be able to maintain his high level as an athlete if he took on the role of professor, but he guaranteed that he learned to balance the two roles as he gained more experience.

“I had to control both sides to maintain a high level as an athlete and professor. This was my first year as a black belt, I lost my first fight at the World Championships and saw that I had a lot to improve. I think I found what I needed to improve. I’m more mature and my Jiu-Jitsu is better. When I started teaching, I thought it would be something that would stop me from evolving, but I found a way to evolve even more because you start to open your mind when you become a professor. From the moment you start teaching, you start to understand the dynamics of the movements. So I had to study Jiu-Jitsu to improve my classes. Consequently, my Jiu-Jitsu evolved too. I got stronger in the face of situations and today I have almost 100 students,” celebrated the Dream Art representative.

Carlos Henrique é um craque do Dream Art. Foto: Reprodução/Instagram
Carlos Henrique is a Dream Art star. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Rising in grappling

Carlos is one of the light-heavyweight revelations of the season and has proved that he belongs among the cream of the crop. He stepped into the grappling limelight and scored a resounding victory at the WNO. He explained whether he intends to continue grappling only or dedicate himself to the gi as well.

“I’ve always found it easy to compete in nogi because of my fighting style. I’m aggressive and have a loose game. I never really focused on nogi, I would only take off the gi when I was close to a competition. That’s basically what I did at the Nogi 2022 World Championships, because I started preparing 15 days before the event. And I still came second, beating a lot of big-name guys. So, after that championship, I got it into my head that I was going to train nogi. I fell in love when I started training nogi and I realized that I had evolved a lot. My first big grappling win was at the WNO and I won the Pan recently. I’m sticking with gi competitions this season, but it’s not my focus. As I’m good at both, I’m going to keep evolving in both areas,” confirmed Carlos.

Carlos Henrique cites evolution in Jiu-Jitsu

Carlos Henrique pointed out that training without a gi has been important for improving his gi game in Jiu-Jitsu.

“When I started training no-gi, I improved my pressure game because you can’t give your opponent space. This has helped me with my style in the gi. So I don’t intend to focus only on nogi, the gi was my first passion. Of course I’ll focus on nogi when I’m close to big competitions, but I want to do both,” said the Brazilian.

The Dream Art athlete stated how he became a more qualified athlete from the moment he took on new responsibilities as a professor, husband and head coach.

“The more responsibility you have, the more you evolve. That’s what happened to me. Before I came here, I had a mindset of just competing, now I don’t. I’m married, I have my responsibilities. I’m married, I have my responsibilities with the gym, I have to teach classes, put together lesson plans and keep people motivated. It’s a bit tiring, but nothing gets in my way. On the contrary, it all makes me evolve. I’ll even give you Tainan’s example. He’s married, he teaches and he’s managed to maintain a high level. I get paid well to be a professor here. So, before, money was my biggest difficulty, today, I am in a better condition and I’m able to make things easier,” Carlos reiterated.

Fuel for prosperity

Carlos Henrique was thrilled with his time in the United States and stressed that he achieves his goals in Jiu-Jitsu not only to improve his life, but also to help his family.

“I work with what I love, so I can travel to compete and pay for a hotel if necessary. Also, the fact that I teach helps many athletes financially. Everything I do is to improve my life and that of my family. And today I’m able to give them better conditions. My results are also coming, things are happening,” celebrated Carlos.

Carlos Henrique sets his sights on Dante

In recent weeks, Max Hanson challenged Carlos Henrique. They faced each other at the Pan and Carlos came out on top. However, despite his recent victory, the Brazilian believes that another win over Hanson could open the door to a rematch with Dante.

“I beat him in the Pan and got the better of him. He attacks the foot a lot and never manages to get into a good position. I took him down, swept and controlled most of the fight. He’s not my focus, I know I’ll finish him if we fight under WNO or ADCC rules. The IBJJF limits my style of play because many athletes don’t fight to finish. It would be interesting to fight him because he trains with Dante. If I beat him, it will increase the expectation for my fight with Dante, since I want to take his belt. Last year, he beat me because of a situation I risked. I think I’ll excel against him with a no-score rule. He’s very aggressive, versatile, but I’m more so. I have more stamina and I hope to have this fight. Before that, Max would be a good fight”, concluded Carlos Henrique.

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Written by Gabriel Almada

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